The Deer At The Door ~ Encountering Wildness

Well, good morning!


I opened my front door, ready to mindlessly go about my day, and stopped midstep. There was Wildness, hanging out, probably eating my newly planted thrumbergia and coleus. We stood motionless for a moment, and I spoke gently, telling her that I needed to get to work. Her ears moved back and forth, and I felt heard.

In an instant I went from running on automatic pilot, the hands of the clock master of my time, my mind already situated firmly far into the day with all of its demands to arrive squarely into the moment. My own ears, if they were capable, would have moved and twitched with my listening. The deer and I negotiated a slow mutual dance of me getting to my car and she sauntering through the yard and across the street where she munched on the neighbor's spirea while I backed out of the drive slowly and headed to work.

A Necessity of the Human Spirit

As I drove down the road now my day was something new, something it wasn't before I opened the door. Edward Abbey said, "Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit."

A few months ago, I started the practice of making a short list of wilderness encounters or observations at the end of my day. It is a worthy practice as I am made to look, pay attention, and remember. My list includes:

  • the red tailed hawk that swooped right in front of my car to snatch up the rat or rabbit lying in the middle of the road

  • the honey bee that found itself lost in my kitchen and how it hovered in front of me as I softly whispered that it must turn around and go out the back door - and it did!

  • the mouse that ran across my path as I walked down to the ferry at the end of my work day, scurrying over to the old tree trunk where someone has set a tiny little garden gnome

The world is full of wildness—crows, growing things, seedlings, the incredibly sweet fragrance of the Nootka rose in full bloom. Even in the city—where once I watched and listened to a council of corvids negotiating something of significance in the parking lot of a heartbreakingly wretched apartment building.

A Wild Being Inside of Me

I wonder about this morning's encounter between Deer and me. For me, these encounters with the wildness of the world elicit several meetings— There is the meeting amongst me, the creature or plant, its life, and my life the wild being meeting me me meeting the wild being and me meeting a wild being inside of me.

Each encounter is vital, a necessity for the human spirit. Each chance meeting changes and enriches my life. These mythopoetic engagements remind me that there are forces much larger than me and this reassures me. They make room for Wildness and Wilderness, which Nightwish says is "very raw, yet somehow beautiful, which represents for me true beauty because beauty isn't pretty~beauty hits you in the face~beauty is like nature~it's just brutal."

I hope that I can remember now to expect the unexpected, the brutal and the beautiful, every morning when I open my front door.